The Scottish Government has confirmed you can stop shielding from 1 August. This is because the rate of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Scotland is currently very low.
To stay safe, you should still follow the advice given to the rest of the public in Scotland. This is to:
- keep 2 metres away from people you do not live with
- regularly wash your hands for at least 20 seconds
If you have not already, you should also send your Community Health Index (CHI) number to the SMS Shielding Service - both your CHI number and the mobile number for the SMS Shielding Service are in the letters you've had from the Scottish Government.
Staying safe and the support you'll carry on getting
Even though the COVID-19 infection rate is very low in Scotland, we know that you may have mixed feelings about stopping shielding.
This is why we're keeping lots of shielding support open. We're also creating new ways to support you. You'll:
- stay on the list of shielding people, so we can contact you and update you if our advice changes – you can request to be removed from the list by asking your GP or hospital clinician
- have online access to up-to-date health guidance about your specific condition
- still get updates by text from our SMS Shielding Service – this will soon include updates on the infection rate in your local area
- have access to guidance around protecting yourself in daily life – this includes guidance on returning to work or school
- be able to contact our helpline on 0800 111 4000, if you need help from your local council
Mental health resources
We recognise that stopping shielding may be stressful. If you need mental health support, visit gov.scot for mental health advice and resources.
Taking a daily vitamin D supplement can help support your health, especially if you have been spending a lot of time indoors due to shielding. Find out more about vitamin D supplements on gov.scot.
If the infection rate in Scotland goes up
The infection rate in Scotland may rise as well as fall in the coming months. Small changes will not affect our advice to you not to shield, but if we start to see an increase in the infection rate that concerns us, we may advise you to take extra steps to stay safe. If we need to update you about this, we'll contact you by letter and through the SMS Shielding Service.
You must wear a face covering when visiting shops and on public transport, unless you have a health condition or disability that makes wearing one hard for you. You do not need proof of this. Other people who do not need to wear a face covering include children under 5, people taking certain types of medication and people who are communicating with someone who lip reads.
If outdoors, our advice is to maintain physical distancing as much as you can. This is the best way to stay safe. If you do this, you do not need to wear a face covering outside.
If, for any reason, you think there's a chance you may not be able to maintain physical distancing while outside, you may want to wear a face covering.
By face coverings, we do not mean the wearing of a surgical or other medical grade mask, but a facial covering of your mouth and nose. This can be made of cloth or other textiles, for example a scarf, through which you can breathe.
Even if you're wearing a face covering, you should still try to maintain physical distancing as much as you can.
From 1 August, you can stop shielding and follow the same guidelines as the rest of the Scottish public.
This means you can:
- meet indoors with up to 8 people from 2 other households, with physical distancing (staying at least 2 metres apart)
- meet outdoors with up to 15 people from 4 other households outdoors with physical distancing
- go inside pubs and restaurants
- attend places of worship for services, communal prayer and contemplation
- return to work or school
- return to university of college as part of the phased return to campus
- use formal childcare providers – including for children who have been shielding
Read more about what it will be safe to do from 1 August on gov.scot.
Buying food and the things you need
We're now advising that you can go into supermarkets and shops. If you do, you must wear a face covering, unless you have a reason not to, and follow physical distancing advice.
If you'd rather get deliveries to your home, you can carry on getting priority access to online supermarket delivery slots after 1 August. This means you should be able to book an online delivery slot even if it gets busy, although we cannot guarantee you'll always get your preferred slot. If you have not already signed up for this priority access, you have until 31 July to sign up using the SMS Shielding Service or by calling 0800 111 4000.
Because you can buy the things you need either by going into shops or by ordering online, we're stopping deliveries of weekly grocery boxes at the end of July.
Going back to work from 1 August
Our advice is that you should carry on working from home, if you can.
If you cannot work from home, you can return to a workplace from 1 August. This is only if it is safe for you to do so. You do not need to get a return to work note from your GP or care provider to go back.
When at work, you should follow physical distancing advice. If you cannot, your employer must put other measures in place to help keep you safe.
If you're worried about going back to work, you should speak to your employer about your concerns. We have given guidance to employers in Scotland about keeping their employees safe at this time, and what they need to do for those who are at higher risk from COVID-19.
Tool to help assess your coronavirus risk at work
The Scottish Government has published a tool to help you assess your coronavirus risk at work. The tool is not a replacement for an assessment from a clinician or occupational health specialist, but it can be a starting point for you and your employer to discuss what your risk might be. It also suggests steps you can both take to keep you safe.
The tool may be most useful to you if you are shielding and thinking about returning to work, but anyone can use it.
Find the tool and guidance around using it here:
Find easy-read versions of the tool and guidance (with images and less text) here:
- Occupational risk assessment tool (easy-read version) (PDF)
- Occupational risk assessment guidance (easy-read version) (PDF)
If you're not able to go back to work
If the risks to you and the kind of job you do mean it's hard for you to return to a workplace, some employers may be able to offer you leave. Beyond the annual leave you're able to take as normal, known as your statutory leave entitlement, it's up to your employer and you to decide what's best if you're not able to return to work. Options include:
- if you have been furloughed for at least a full 3-week period prior to 30 June, your employer may be able to apply for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme - under this scheme you can be furloughed and receive 80% of your regular wages, up to a cap of £2,500
- you will be able to get Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) until 31 July - after this, if you feel you're not able to return to work, you can discuss your fitness for work with your GP or specialist care provider
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme runs until the end of October.
If you're facing a gap in your usual income, you may be able to apply for a crisis grant from the Scottish Welfare Fund.
Going back to school
We expect all children who are shielding to be able to return to school in August, unless given advice from a GP or healthcare provider not to.
We expect children will be able to return to school because we now know that children are at much lower risk of severe illness from coronavirus than adults, and also less likely to pass on the virus to other people.
If you're worried about this advice, you can speak to your child's school about how they're getting ready to open fully in August. We'll also be publishing detailed 'Guidance on preparing for the start of the new school term in August 2020' on gov.scot from 30 July, though our advice remains to speak to your child's school if you have concerns.
Gift card schemes
You're now also able to join card schemes with major supermarkets. These card schemes allow you to add credit onto a supermarket card, which can be posted by the supermarket to a member of your family, or a friend. The card can be used to buy shopping in-store.
Risk levels of common daily activities if you've been shielding
Here's a quick guide to the coronavirus risk involved in some everyday activities. This can help you make informed choices about minimising risk based on your personal circumstances.
Find more information about staying safe during daily activities on gov.scot.
- outdoor non-contact activities, such as running and physically distant outdoor exercise classes
- going swimming
- outdoor contact sports
- indoor non-contact activities, such as going to the gym
- getting personal care at home
- seeing your GP or clinician
- going to a pharmacy
- providing care for others
- visiting a day centre
- sitting in a busy waiting room, for example at a walk-in clinic
- meeting people outdoors
- choosing one other household to be part of your 'extended household' (meaning you can spend time together inside each other's homes and not need to stay at least 2 metres apart)
- meeting people indoors
- physical contact with people you do not live with
- going to an outdoor market
- going to the shops
- getting your hair cut
- going to a museum
- going to a busy beach
- going to the cinema
- paying for petrol at the pump
- staying in self-catering accommodation
- travelling outwith your local area
- going in someone else's car
- staying at a hotel
- travelling by bus or train
- picnic outside with others
- sitting outside a café, restaurant or pub
- having people over for a meal
- sitting inside a café, restaurant or pub